China has started building a $139m highway to connect the last remote Tibetan county Medog with rest of the country, ending the history of isolation in an area that has no paved roads.

The 117km long highway will cover snow-capped mountains, remote villages and towns with tough terrain between Zhamog and Medog and is scheduled to complete in 2011, the Xinhua news agency reported.

More than 300 technical staff from the armed forces have already started working on the first phase, which includes a 3.3km long tunnel that will be capable of withstanding earthquakes measuring 6.5 at Richter scale.

Currently, Tibet’s 51,000km highways connect 97% of towns and 76% of villages.